Journal Article

‘Unwholesome’ and ‘pornographic’: A reassessment of the place of Rackstrow's Museum in the story of eighteenth-century anatomical collection and exhibition

Matthew Craske

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 23, issue 1, pages 75-99
Published in print May 2011 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhq018
‘Unwholesome’ and ‘pornographic’: A reassessment of the place of Rackstrow's Museum in the story of eighteenth-century anatomical collection and exhibition

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This article advances the case for a reconsideration of Rackstrow's Museum. Whilst not denying the association of the Museum with spectacle and wonder, the text demonstrates that the proprietors performed to a well considered ethical and intellectual agenda. The case turns on the provision of a new and detailed chronology, upon which is built the argument that, even at the most basic level, the Museum has been misunderstood. A considerable body of new primary information is brought into the scholarly arena. This is presented as valuable, not just in the reconsideration of the narrative of this institution but also on a number of aspects of ‘context’. New interpretations are advanced concerning the development of anatomical collecting and exhibiting as a whole. The main of objective of the article is to provide an empirical basis for examining many of the established ways in which historians have talked about anatomical showmanship, and associated patterns of collection, in the past.

Journal Article.  19996 words. 

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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